Viṣṇu Purāṇa | Book 4 - Chapter 1

Chapter I

Dynasties of kings. Origin of the solar dynasty from Brahmā. Sons of the Manu Vaivaswata. Transformations of Ilā or Sudyumna. Descendants of the sons of Vaivaswata; those of Nediṣṭha. Greatness of Māruta. Kings of Vaiśālī. Descendants of Śaryāti. Legend of Raivata; his daughter Revatī married to Balarāma.


Venerable preceptor, you have explained to me the perpetual and occasional ceremonies which are to be performed by those righteous individuals who are diligent in their devotions; and you have also described to me the duties which devolve upon the several castes, and on the different orders of the human race.

Now I would like to ask you to tell me about the dynasties of kings who have ruled over the earth.


I will repeat to you, Maitreya, an account of the family of Manu, commencing with Brahmā, and graced by a number of religious, magnanimous, and heroic princes. Of which it is said:

"His lineage will never be extinct, who daily remember the race of Manu, originating with Brahmā."

Listen therefore, Maitreya, to the entire series of the princes of this family, by which all sin shall be purified:

Before the evolution of the mundane egg, existed Brahmā, who was Hiraṇyagarbha, the form of that supreme Brahma which consists of Viṣṇu as identical with the Rig, Yajur, and Sāma Vedas; the primeval, uncreated cause of all worlds.

From the right thumb of Brahmā was born the patriarch Dakṣa; his daughter was Aditi, who was the mother of the sun.

The Manu Vaivaswata was the son of the celestial luminary; and his sons were Ikṣvāku, Nriga, Dhṛṣṭa, Śaryāti, Naṛṣyanta, Prānśu, Nābhāga, Nediṣṭa, Karūṣa, and Pṛṣadhra.

Before their birth, the Manu, being desirous of sons, offered a sacrifice for that purpose to Mitra and Varuṇa; but the rite being deranged, through an irregularity of the ministering priest, a daughter, Ilā, was produced.

Through the favour of the two divinities, however, her sex was changed, and she became a man, named Sudyumna.

At a subsequent period, in consequence of becoming subject to the effects of a malediction once pronounced by Śiva, Sudyumna was again transformed to a woman in the vicinity of the hermitage of Budha, the son of the deity of the Moon.

Budha saw and espoused her, and had by her a son named Pururavā.

After his birth, the illustrious Ṛṣis, desirous of restoring Sudyumna to his sex, prayed to the mighty Viṣṇu, who is the essence of the four Vedas, of mind, of everything, and of nothing; and who is in the form of the sacrificial male; and through his favour Ilā once more became Sudyumna, in which character he had three sons, Utkala, Gaya, and Vinata.

In consequence of his having been formerly a female, Sudyumna was excluded from any share in his paternal dominions; but his father, at the suggestion of Vasiṣṭha, bestowed upon him the city Pratiṣṭhāna, and he gave it to Pururavā.

Of the other sons of the Manu, Pṛṣadhra, in consequence of the crime of killing a cow, was degraded to the condition of a Śūdra.

From Karūṣa descended the mighty warriors termed Kārūṣas (the sovereigns of the north).

The son of Nediṣṭha, named Nābhāga, became a Vaiśya: his son was Bhalandana; whose son was the celebrated Vatsaprī: his son was Prānsu; whose son was Prajāni; whose son was Khanitra;

whose son was the very valiant Chakṣupa; whose son was Vinśa; whose son was Vivinśati; whose son was Khaninetra; whose son was the powerful, wealthy, and valiant Karandhama; whose son was Avikṣi (or Avikṣit); whose son was the mighty Māruta, of whom this well-known verse is recited:

"There never was beheld on earth a sacrifice equal to the sacrifice of Māruta:

all the implements and utensils were made of gold. Indra was intoxicated with the libations of Soma juice, and the Brahmans were enraptured with the magnificent donations they received. The winds of heaven encompassed the rite as guards, and the assembled gods attended to behold it."

Māruta was a Cakravartī, or universal monarch: he had a son named Naṛṣyanta; his son was Dama; his son was Rājyavarddhana; his son was Sudhriti; his son was Nara; his son was Kevala; his son was Bandhumat; his son was Vegavat; his son was Budha; his son was Trinavindu, who had a daughter named Ilavilā.

The celestial nymph Alambuṣā becoming enamoured of Triṇavindu, bore him a son named Viśāla, by whom the city Vaiśālī was founded.

The son of the first king of Vaiśālī was Hemachandra; his son was Suchandra; his son was Dhūmrāśva; his son was Srinjaya; his son was Sahadeva; his son was Kriśāśva; his son was Somadatta, who celebrated ten times the sacrifice of a horse; his son was Janamejaya; and his son was Sumati.

These were the kings of Vaiśālī; of whom it is said:

"By the favour of Triṇavindu all the monarchs of Vaiśālī were long lived, magnanimous, equitable, and valiant."

Śaryāti, the fourth son of the Manu, had a daughter named Sukanyā, who was married to the holy sage Chyavana: he had also a righteous son, called Ānartta.

The son of the latter was Revata, who ruled over the country called after his father Ānartta, and dwelt at the capital denominated Kuśasthalī.

The son of this prince was Raivata or Kakudmīn, the eldest of a hundred brethren. He had a very lovely daughter, and not finding any one worthy of her hand, he repaired with her to the region of Brahmā to consult the god where a fit bridegroom was to be met with.

When he arrived, the quiristers Hāhā, Hūhū, and others, were singing before Brahmā; and Raivata, waiting till they had finished, imagined the ages that elapsed during their performance to be but as a moment.

At the end of their singing, Raivata prostrated himself before Brahmā, and explained his errand.

"Whom should you wish for a son-in-law?" demanded Brahmā; and the king mentioned to him various persons with whom he could be well pleased.

Nodding his head gently, and graciously smiling, Brahmā said to him:

"Of those whom you have named the third or fourth generation no longer survives, for many successions of ages have passed away whilst you were listening to our songsters:

now upon earth the twenty-eighth great age of the present Manu is nearly finished, and the Kali period is at hand.

You must therefore bestow this virgin gem upon some other husband, for you are now alone, and your friends, your ministers, servants, wife, kinsmen, armies, and treasures, have long since been swept away by the hand of time."

Overcome with astonishment and alarm, the Rāja then said to Brahmā: "Since I am thus circumstanced, do thou, lord, tell me unto whom the maiden shall be given:"

and the creator of the world, whose throne is the lotus, thus benignantly replied to the prince, as he stood bowed and humble before him:

"The being of whose commencement, course, and termination, we are ignorant; the unborn and omnipresent essence of all things; he whose real and infinite nature and essence we do not know--is the supreme Viṣṇu:

He is time, made up of moments and hours and years; whose influence is the source of perpetual change. He is the universal form of all things, from birth to death. He is eternal, without name or shape.

Through the favour of that imperishable being I am the agent of his power in creation: through his anger is Rudra the destroyer of the world: and the cause of preservation, Puruṣa, proceeds also from him.

The unborn having assumed my person creates the world; in his own essence he provides for its duration; in the form of Rudra he devours all things; and with the body of Ananta he upholds them.

Impersonated as Indra and the other gods he is the guardian of mankind; and as the sun and moon he disperses darkness. Taking upon himself the nature of fire he bestows warmth and maturity; and in the condition of the earth nourishes all beings.

As one with air he gives activity to existence; and as one with water he satisfies all wants: whilst in the state of ether, associated with universal aggregation, he furnishes space for all objects.

He is at once the creator, and that which is created; the preserver, and that which is preserved; the destroyer, and, as one with all things, that which is destroyed; and, as the indestructible, he is distinct from these three vicissitudes.

In him is the world; he is the world; and he, the primeval self-born, is again present in the world. That mighty Viṣṇu, who is paramount over all beings, is now in a portion of himself upon the earth.

That city Kuśasthalī which was formerly your capital, and rivalled the city of the immortals, is now known as Dvārakā, and there reigns a portion of that divine being in the person of Baladeva;

to him, who appears as a man, present her as a wife: he is a worthy bridegroom for this excellent damsel, and she is a suitable bride for him."

Being thus instructed by the lotus-born divinity, Raivata returned with his daughter to earth, where he found the race of men dwindled in stature, reduced in vigour, and enfeebled in intellect.

Repairing to the city of Kuśasthalī, which he found much altered, the wise monarch bestowed his unequalled daughter on the wielder of the ploughshare, whose breast was as fair and radiant as crystal.

Beholding the damsel of excessively lofty height, the chief, whose banner is a palm-tree, shortened her with the end of his ploughshare, and she became his wife.

Balarāma having espoused, accordingly to the ritual, Revatī, the daughter of Raivata, the king retired to the mountain Himālaya, and ended his days in devout austerities.